“Bass fishing is the next NASCAR”

That has been the mantra of those in the bass-biz since ESPN lost it’s NASCAR television contract nearly eight years ago. With the departure of the largest sport in the country, ESPN blew out its weekend schedule with Saturday and Sunday morning outdoors programming. Now that “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” has regained a share of the NASCAR gold, the outdoors block, including bass fishing, has been once again relegated to a weekend afterthought—a conglomerated mish-mash of hunting and fishing shows used as a lead-in to race coverage.

Along the way, however, both BASS (owned by ESPN) and FLW jumped on the fantasy sports phenomenon that was taking place in mainstream sports. Not only were the two groups vying for the same anglers and sponsors, they were each trying to attract a limited number of bass enthusiasts that were also computer literate enough to play online fantasy fishing. Both sites/games saw yearly growth with tens-of-thousands of players.

Now FLW seems to be making a move to not only grab the majority of those computer literate bass fishing aficianodos in the U.S., but also those overseas (namely Japan) as well as mainstream fantasy sports players.

Rumor has it that FLW just upped the ante in a big way. Our sources are saying that the money laid down by FLW will result in “tens-of-millions of fantasy players” and recent press announcement said it would be the “largest-ever guaranteed cash and prize payout in the history of fantasy sports.”

That’s not in the history of bass fantasy fishing, that’s in the history of all fantasy sports!

While “tens-of-millions of players” seems extremely ambitious to us (initial estimates are 10-40 million players), if FLW is ponying up enough cash and prizes they very well could tap into the mainstream fantasy market (although it’s not completely clear as to whether they have the vehicle to push the game mainstream, ala BASS via ESPN); which would be a huge boon not only for their fantasy game, but for interest in the sport of bass fishing, as well as mega-boost to FLW in its competition with BASS to attract anglers and members at the grassroots level.

To compete on the level of mainstream however, it will have to be a serious amount of cash, not only to the overall winner but also to a fair number of other finishers. And to maintain interest, prizes would have to be rich enough that players visited and played at each tour stop. That’s a lot of dough and merchandise that sponsors will have to cough up. You’re looking at millions of bucks. That’s a HUGE prize package.

Can FLW pull off a multi-million dollar prize purse for fantasy fishing? We’ll find out Dec. 11 when they’re holding a big press conference in New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria (the setting definitely fits the theme of a rich payoff…).

Stay tuned for more details…

Brian Lynn
Senior Editor
Outdoor Life